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Thursday, August 23, 2012

GUEST BLOG: Matthew D. Ryan


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Matthew will be awarding a package of metal miniatures of vampires/vampire hunters to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour (US/Canada only). Click on the tour banner for a list of Matthew's other stops on the tour.


I’ve written guest posts before, and I’ve come to expect them to be a little more difficult than the posts I write up on my own. That’s part of the price you pay when the topic of the post does not originate with you. But this post, what my characters taught me, was by far the most difficult I’ve ever done. It’s not that I don’t look at my characters as evolving beings who learn new things as they go along. No, far from it. But normally it is the characters that do the learning, although after a certain point, the characters “take over” the writing and speak for themselves, coming to life to share their experiences in a way fundamentally unique to each one of them.

In my book Drasmyr, there are a number of protagonists. The three main ones are: Coragan the bounty hunter, Galladrin the rogue, and Regecon the wizard. And looking back across the story, the actions these characters take, I think one of the more visible lessons to be learned is the value of improvising on the go. It’s true, as the author, it may seem strange that I chose the value of improvisation for surely the characters throughout the story followed a plan that I laid down for them, and likewise, although I did a considerable amount of writing by the seat of my pants in this novel, I don’t think you can fairly classify the author’s work as improvisation after a dozen or so full edits. But the characters themselves? That’s a different story.

When I read and write, I get in the head of the character under discussion. Take Coragan, for example. Although I may have planned out his actions in exacting detail before I wrote a single word, what he experiences as a character is not so well predetermined, as he sees it. He lives in the moment; he doesn’t know the vampires are waiting for him at the castle, so he must act and behave accordingly. And that is where the improvisation comes in. I put him and my other characters in some tight spots throughout the novel. They survived only by relying on their wits. The fact that I planned things out in advance (in my head, anyway) is irrelevant. The characters needed to be quick on their feet. They’re trapped in a castle, being hunted by vampires, and have no way out but… the window. Coragan’s riding on a horse, desperately trying to load a crossbow when he is charged by an enemy and… the crossbow quarrel becomes a temporary hand weapon. These actions, when the characters used their wits, improvising according to the situation were critical to their survival. These actions shine a light on the creativity of the human animal in moments of stress.

I may never be in a castle haunted by vampires, or fleeing an army of frenzied wolves, but I will have moments of stress in my life. How I and others respond to that stress is important to how we deal with whatever situation we are in. Being able to think like Coragan, coming up with a solution on the fly, is the mark of a capable individual. Of course, such a trait probably can’t be taught; but it can be recognized. And the person doing that recognition can learn to profit from it, whether it be in business, personal relationships, or what-have-you. Learn to value the ability to improvise; improve it in yourself if you can, and recognize it in others when you can’t.

That’s what I learned from Coragan and the others.

About the Author:
Matthew D. Ryan is a published author living in upstate New York on the shores of Lake Champlain. He has a background in philosophy, mathematics, and computer science. He also has a black belt in the martial arts and studies yoga. He has been deeply involved in the fantasy genre for most of his life as a reader, writer, and game designer. He believes he saw the legendary Lake Champlain Monster (a.k.a Champy) once and he has a cat named Confucius.

Find Matthew online at

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Author’s Twitter Handle: @MatthewDRyan1 Author’s Goodreads Page:
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The book is available on Smashwords and elsewhere for no cost.

We vampires do not make easy prey. Our weaknesses are few, our strengths many. Fear is something we do not know, and death but a distant memory. So tread softly, pray to your god, and gird yourself with silver when the moons arise and night’s dark prince awakens. We fear not the wizard, nor the warrior, neither rogue, nor priest; our strength is timeless, drawn from darkness and we know no master save the hot lust of our unending hunger. We long for blood, your blood and no blade, nor spell, nor clever artifice, can keep us long from our prize. Feel our teeth at your throat, your life ebb from you, and know as darkness comes to claim you that the price of your folly is your everlasting soul.


  1. I think learning to improvise is a great lesson. We need to use that almost daily. Great job on your difficult post.
    debby236 at gmail dot com

  2. Yeah, thank you for hosting me today. I appreciate it greatly.

  3. Improvisation is great trait and helps keep the reader guessing "what will he do this time."

    1. Yeah, it definitely adds spice to a story.